What is the Difference between a Barmitzvah & a Batmitzvah?

What is the Difference between a Barmitzvah & a Batmitzvah?

Barmitzvah is the name given for the coming of age for a boy and Batmitzvah for a girl.

According to Jewish Law, at the age of 13 a boy is no longer considered a minor & becomes accountable for his own actions.  He therefore become a Barmitzvah.  A girl becomes a Batmitzvah at the age of 12 according to Orthodox and Conservative Jews, and at the age of 13 according to Reform Jews. At this age it is thought the children are capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and can follow the Torah’s Commandments.

The Jewish custom is to mark this milestone with a synagogue ceremony welcoming the Barmitzvah boy to the world of Jewish adulthood and initiating him in the opportunities and responsibilities that come along with his new status. The Barmitzvah boy will prepare for this occasion for months and as a young man, he stands on his own before the congregation and shows them what he has achieved.   He will read from the Torah during this ceremony for the first time.

In Orthodox communities, there wasn’t until recently a ceremony to mark the Batmitzvah of a girl & her 12th birthday would pass uneventfully.  But today, for the most part, Orthodox Jews have understood the need to develop ceremonies in order to make this Jewish turning point significant to their daughters. Ways of marking the occasion vary by community. In many Modern Orthodox communities, on the Shabbat following a girl’s becoming Batmitzvah she may deliver a D’var Torah (short teaching about the Torah portion for her Batmitzvah week).  There is no uniform model for the Batmitzvah ceremony in Orthodox communities yet, but the tradition continues to evolve.

In Reform and Liberal communities there is not such a disparity between what a boy and a girl does. Both a Barmitzvah & Batmitzvah will occur when the child is 13 and girls can recite from the Torah like the boys do.

These occasions are often followed by a gathering of family and friends to have a party and celebrate the new Barmitzvah or Batmitzvah.